NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE NEWS & NOTES

The NFL has warned teams that 11-on-11 training camp drills were largely responsible for last year’s spike in preseason concussions, an important data point as coaches finalize practice schedules for this summer’s practices.

The league has stopped short of banning full-squad drills, which coaches consider essential to preparing for the contact that occurs during regular-season games. But NFL data showed that preseason concussions in 2017 increased by 73 percent, from 26 in 2016 to 45. Most of them occurred during full-team drills during the opening weeks of camp, before preseason games began.

Each team has received a customized data report describing how and when preseason concussions occurred in their camps last season, compared to the rest of the league. Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety initiatives, said Friday that he hopes the data “will inform what clubs do” when camps open. Miller said the league hopes to replicate its success in addressing a similar issue after the 2014 season. In 2015, camp concussions dropped by 33 percent. By Kevin Seifert

Even in the dead of the NFL offseason, there is NFL news. On Thursday, the NFL announced Jameis Winston is officially suspended for the first three games of the 2018 regular season. He will not appeal that suspension, which will see him miss games against the SaintsEagles, and Steelers. In addition to missing the first three games of the seasonWinston will be required to obtain a clinical evaluation and cooperate in any recommended program of therapeutic intervention, according to the NFL. In reality, we’re wondering how his suspension wasn’t worse. By  

It’s the 2018 season, December in Carolina, and the Panthers are in the postseason hunt. They are playing the division-leading Saints, and quarterback Cam Newton is scrambling.

He rushes for 20 yards, and at the end of the play, he—as thousands of runners have done before him throughout the history of football—lowers his head to protect himself as one of the Saints defensive backs makes the tackle. A flag is thrown.

“Unnecessary roughness,” announces the official. It had become an annual ritual for the NFL: beginning a season with a major controversy over a matter of player discipline looming. By MIKE FREEMAN

The NFL’s public statement on Jameis Winston‘s three-game suspension suggested that Winston could be one violation of the personal-conduct policy away from a lifetime ban.

“In addition, a future violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban from the NFL,” the league’s statement said.

Of course, the NFL also said after the Ray Rice fiasco that a six-game suspension would be the baseline for domestic violence or sexual assault, and yet Winston got only three games even though the NFL’s own findings concluded that Winston touched an Uber driver “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.” So the NFL doesn’t always follow through on warnings about the severity of its suspensions. And the league has used that language in other letters to players suspended under the personal conduct policy, including Ezekiel Elliott last year.

Still, the words “potential ban” show just how serious a situation this is for Winston and the Buccaneers. A former first overall pick in the draft, a player who might be one of the league’s brightest stars for the next 15 years, also might be just one bad act away from never playing in the NFL again. By Michael David Smith

The 2015 season played out with Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association clashing with the league in court over the four-game suspension given to the quarterback… By Mark Maske

If we all learned one thing about Tony Romo last year, it’s that he has an uncanny ability to predict the future on the football field.

It you want to know what’s going to happen before it actually happens, then just plan to watch whatever game Romo is broadcasting. (Note: Romo is on CBS and CBS is everyone’s favorite network, so finding him should be easy. Also CBS will be streaming NFL games to your cell phone in 2018, so you have no excuse not to watch). By 

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